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Elgin Theater

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Elgin Theater

The Elgin Theater was an American movie theatre, located on the corner of 19th Street and Eighth Avenue in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. The theater closed in 1978, but the building was returned to service as the Joyce Theater in 1982. It is now a 472-seat dance and performance theater.



Opened in 1942, the theater was designed in the Art Moderne style by Simon Zelnik and was a popular movie house for decades seating 600. It served as a home to cult films and revivals and, later in its career, as an adult theater.

In 1970, the managers showed Alejandro Jodorowsky's 1970 surrealist western El Topo at midnight, with the idea spreading midnight showings to other New York City theaters.

Even while it was an adult theater, it still kept up its program of showing midnight movies. The Elgin is credited with inspiring other New York City theatres to show midnight screenings.

In 1978, the community forced it to close.

Notable midnight films

A list of films played at midnight during the 1970s at the Elgin:

  • El Topo
  • Eraserhead
  • Freaks
  • The Harder They Come
  • Invocation of My Demon Brother           
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Pink Flamingos
  • Reefer Madness
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Targets
  • Un Chien Andalou
  • Joyce Theater

    The building was returned to service as the Joyce Theater in 1982 and it is now a 472-seat dance and performance theater. The interior was completely gutted and the structure restored by architect Hugh Hardy. Hardy also preserved the marquee and fa├žade outside. The theater hosts nearly 140,000 people a year and serves as a popular dance venue in the city. The new name is in memory of the daughter of LuEsther Mertz, who made possible the purchase of the theater in 1979, at a cost of $225,000.


    Elgin Theater Wikipedia